Cuban troops have joined Russian, Iranian, Lebanese Hezbollah and possibly Chinese soldiers assisting the al-Assad government in its fight against al-Nusra, ISIS and the U.S.-supported jihadis in Syria, according to the University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies.

The Institute claims General Leopoldo Cintra Frias, head of the Cuban Armed Forces, visited Syria with a group of Cuban military personnel.

News reports indicate Cubans have been spotted in Syria and they may be preparing to operate tanks.

An unnamed U.S. official told Fox on Wednesday Cuban troops may have trained in Russia and have possibly arrived in Syria on Russian planes.

Meanwhile, the Israeli intelligence source DEBKAfile claims Cubans will participate in the Ghaba offensive.

On October reported on an offensive by the jihadi group Jaish al-Fatah (the Army of Conquest) to take the Sahl al-Ghab, a strategic area that lies between Latakia, Hama and Idlib provinces. Joureen in Sahl al-Ghab is a supply line for the Syrian Army.

The Cuban military, which received support from the Soviet Union prior to its collapse in the 1980s, offered assistance and conducted military operations in a number of nations, including Ghana, Algeria, Syria, Ethiopia, Angola, Nicaragua and El Salvador. In 2012 a Cuban senior general agreed to strengthen military ties with China.

The 1975 Cuban military operation in support of the leftist People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola was a large scale operation that fought against U.S.-backed interventions by South Africa and Zaire. Cuba remained in Angola after Zaire and South Africa retreated. Cuba withdrew from the African nation in 1981.

The loss of Soviet support reduced the size and effectiveness of the Cuban military. “Today, the Revolutionary Armed Forces number about 60,000 regular troops. The country’s two paramilitary organizations, the Territorial Militia Troops and the Youth Labor Army, have a reduced training capability,” notes Global Security.

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